Book Bytes Panther Titles – Comparison Review of:

Special Edition Using Mac OS X, v10.3 Panther
by Brad Miser

 

Que Publishing
ISBN 0-7897-3075-8, 1047 pages
$39.99 US, $57.99 CN, £289.99 UK


Mac OS X: Missing Manual, Panther Edition
by David Pogue

Pogue Press / O’Reilly
ISBN 0-596-00615-2, 763 pages
$29.95 US, $43.95 CN


Mac OS X Panther Bible
by Samuel A. Litt (and others)

Wiley Publishers
ISBN 0-7645-4399-7, 892 pages
$29.99 US, $42.99 CN, £26.99 UK


WHAT IS THE BEST BOOK FOR A NEW OS X USER?

Missing Manual, because opening chapters comfortably introduce new users to Panther interface and features. Page design and writing style reinforce Pogue’s dedication to basic material that newbies need to understand.

HOW ABOUT THE BEST BOOK FOR AN INTERMEDIATE USER?

Special Edition, with its emphasis on understanding what everything is and how it works, plus strong chapters on networking, maintenance, and digital life apps.

IS ONE TITLE SUPERIOR ON ITS OVERALL LOOK AND FEEL?

Bible has a great cover, clear and accessible design, ample use of bold type, but less than dark screenshots.

Special Edition has clean but austere appearance, with typography that older readers may consider too small; blue highlights throughout are good.

Missing Manual is perhaps easier to read than Special Edition, but greyscale everywhere is dull compared to Miser’s book.

HOW’S THE READABILITY?

Missing Manual has easiest font, and Bible has best layout and organization.

ANY STUNNING VISUAL ELEMENTS?

Special Edition has sharpest screenshots, plus abundant use of blue highlights, accents, and itemized graphical text.

WHICH HAS MOST COMPREHENSIVE INDEXING?

Special Edition has most effective inside cover locators, Contents, and Index sections.

WHAT ABOUT QUICK REFERENCE TOPIC LOCATING?

Special Edition’s inside covers’ Quick Guides and Contents At A Glance help SE stand out in this aspect.

WHO IS THE BEST AUTHOR?

Pogue and Miser have equally good writing style and organization, with Pogue being more folksy and Miser being more straightforward. Qualifications are valid for all three authors.

HOW DOES EACH BOOK HANDLE LEARNING TO MASTER PANTHER’S IDIOSYNCRASIES, ESPECIALLY WHEN THINGS DON’T GO SMOOTHLY?

Missing Manual helps new and intermediate users feel comfortable with basic troubleshooting and maintenance. Special Edition goes deeper, but slower, requiring more study to understand the explanations. Bible has extensive material, but some of it is not easy to locate quickly.

WHICH BOOK EXCELS IN USABILITY?

Pogue’s content and delivery are outstanding, geared toward non-geeks most of the time. Miser delivers consistent quality, especially for readers who are interested in the how and why, in addition to the what. Litt’s team is thorough, although the Bible at times is more of a reference work than the other two.

ANY SPECIAL FEATURES THAT DISTINGUISH BOOKS?

Bible has a fine Glossary, plus strong chapters on working with Unix and Networking. Bible’s straightforward presentation allows readers to follow itemized tasks, with help of ample bold type.

Missing Manual’s Appendices are great for switchers and upgraders. Power users will appreciate the keyboard shortcuts list.

OR SPECIAL STRENGTHS?

Special Edition’s extensive book-within-a-book on iApps and digital lifestyle is a substantial asset. SE’s helpful unit on the mobile Macintosh is a personal favorite. Miser’s humor, dry and rare, exhibits his passion for his subject and for making his readers feel they have an ally on every page.

OUR MYMAC.COM BOOK BYTES RATING?

You can’t go wrong with any one of these valuable Panther books. David Pogue consistently receives top marks, and it’s time for Brad Miser to be welcomed into the first division of OS authors.

5 out of 5 for Special Edition Using Mac OS X, v10.3 Panther and Mac OS X: Missing Manual, Panther Edition, with a very high 3 out of 5 for Mac OS X Panther Bible.

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